Veteran Ford Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Searching for a new home
Bring back the old days
Standard disclaimer - this is personal opinion blah blah.
Was reading the local fish wrapper this morning, which has an article discussing the latest road safety / revenue raising measures being considered by our Victorian political masters.
After polishing the old crystal ball I thought it would be a good idea to see where all this is heading from the technology point of view.
Before I start with the predictions let me take a moment to look at where we have come from.
In my (largely) misspent youth, the height of police technology consisted of a calibrated speedo and in the really sophisticated vehicles this was actually capable of registering the highest speed recorded. Not that this mattered too much when the SA police were all driving three on the tree HG Kingswoods with the big block 186 motor, as these things were flat out at 95 mph anyway and needed a lot of road to get there. You still got caught but you had to be doing a fair bit over the limit before they'd even bother and you were just as likely to get your ass kicked as you were to be booked.
Mind you this also pre-dated the breathalyser so drink driving tests consisted of walking straight lines and touching the end of your nose - high tech stuff indeed.
A few years on saw the introduction of the amphometer - for those who don't know this consisted of two wires strung across the road and an instrument to record the elapsed time across the gap between the wires and translate that into a speed reading. They were clumsy to set up and fairly obvious to see but they represented the first real attempt to bring science to speed detection. In fairness, these were usually set up in known black spots as an attempt to slow drivers down rather than act as a revenue device.
A few years later saw the introduction of radar. Whilst these early units were not terribly sophisticated (they were just as likely to be recording the speed of a passing aircraft) they were largely accepted as gospel by the courts and became a valuable source of revenue for State governments. The initial concept was good. They were supposed to be used in black spots and have warning signs put up in the vicinity of their use as a deterrent to speeding but the sheer revenue potential of them soon put a stop to that. Those of us who felt this was unjust added radar detection devices to our vehicles in order to stay half a step ahead in the technology war.
At the present time we have a whole raft of speed detection technology. From the ubiquitous speed camera to mobile radar, slant radar and laser - no expense is spared today simply because the revenue return is so high. Couple this with reductions in the actual speed limits and the tolerances allowed and we have an absolute bonanza for the Governments. Furthermore, the mere possession of anti speed measuring devices puts you in the same category as a drug dealer and your car can be searched (in Vic / NSW) or impounded (Qld) if you are even suspected of having one.
Now don't get me wrong here - I am not endorsing the irresponsible use of speed but once we have reached the stage where 3 km/h over (in Vic) gets you nailed then it is clear that commonsense has gone out the window.
SO what does the future hold??
The reality is that the technology is now available that would actually stop vehicles from speeding (at least in modern vehicles) and in some parts of Europe this technology is being deployed in high accident zones. Do you think we'd see this here? About as likely as me winning the Mr Universe title. This is actually a solution that would assist road safety but diminish revenue so it hasn't got a snowflakes chance in hell of getting a guernsey.
More likely will be a continued move in the present direction with bigger fines, less tolerance and more speed detection technologies. Victoria is already well down this path with most of the major freeways littered with cameras - just as well they have got rid of the flash units otherwise a drive down the Ring Road at 103 km/h would make you feel like a rock star from all the flashes.
Plans are already under way to extend this camera network to the suburban arterials and who knows where this will end.
Driving used to be a pleasure. A nice piece of your favourite road or a late night cruise a few mph over the posted limit was to be enjoyed but now it seems that even a trip down the road is an exercise in watching the speedo and looking for cameras.
The roads have improved immeasurably in the last 25 years (as have the cars) and yet the speeds we are supposed to travel them on have reduced in both theoretical and real terms.
I'd really like to believe that this whole strategy had the support of the community at large and that I was just a social misfit for wanting to slip a wee bit over the speed limit on a 2a.m trip to Canberra. The facts don't support that. Victoria will issue almost 1.3 tickets this year for every license holder in the State and the roads I travel daily the traffic flow is 7-10 km/h over the limit all the time.
Pity we keep allowing ourselves to be continuously shafted in this manner.
I'd almost be happy to have the drum brakes, leaf springs, vinyl seats, crossply tyres and AirChief radio back if all the Government technology would disappear too.